Comics I Read This Week

Recs

Superman #903

Written by Paul Cornell
Pencils by Axle Gimenez

While his supporting cast is busy fighting four different Doomsdays monsters that are terrorizing earth, Superman is trying to find a way to defeat the big bad Doomsday that is in control of a inter-dimensional spaceship which he wants to use to destroy the planet.  Basically the plot is characters beat up other characters, super science talk, more fighting, more science, explosion!

I must admit this comic was a lot more fun when it was about Lex Luthor instead of Superman. However the shift from the Luthor character study to Superman action book isn’t an entirely bad one one. Paul Cornell makes all the characters seem believable and gives most of them, especially The Eraticator, great hero moments.

I also have to give him props about not being afraid to have a villain who monologues to no one in particular about his evil plans. Classic.

The art byAxle Gimenz stands out here. He has great energy and an inking style remiisant of Francis Manapul. His art is good enough to almost make me to want to buy the Red Hood and The Renegades he is going to draw in September, almost.

Invincible #81

Written By Robert Kirkman
Pencils By Ryan Ottley

Invincible is having a hard time dealing destruction of Las Vegas that happened last issue. In the mist of his grief, Invincible encounters  the (kind of) villain, Powerplex. Powerplex first appeared in issue 59, an issue about Powerplex’s inability to deal with the loss of his sister, an innocent bystander was killed amidst a fight between Invincible and his father.

This issue, although tying in heavily with the overarching Invincible narrative, is very much a sequel to issue 59. It may seem sappy but, this issue is deals with the two characters learning forgivness. Invincible learning to forgive himself for not being able to save Los Vegas. And Powerplex forgiving Invincible for the death of his sister.

This is the best Invicible book since the end o the Vultimite war. If you have only one book to buy this week, pick this one.

Also there is a cameo of another Kirckman character in this issue that if you blink you will miss.

Recks

Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt

Written By Sean McKeever
Pencils by Mike Norton

I think comic book writers must really hate Vesas, because sin city also gets pretty beat up in this comic as well. The Juggernaght is continuing his destructive run across the country, and Prodigy is assigned to put together a team to stop him.

This comic features characters from Avengers The Initiative, a book that gave new characters and B-listers a chance to shine. However in Youth In Revolt (what are they revolting from exactly?) all the efforts of the heroes have a great big shadow over their head: we know from previews that the Juggernaut is going to beat them and make his way to San Fransisco in the X-men Fear Itself tie in.

The Fear Itself Thunderbolts comic also had this problem, but that was easier to forgive because it at least had a trippy journey through the Juggernaut’s mind to entertain us. All this comic has to offer us is seeing some heroes that are most fun when they are being built up getting five colors of snot beaten out of them by a character we know they will  lose to anyway.

Guarding The Globe
Written by Robert Kirkmen and Benito Cereno
Pencils by Ransom Getty and Russell Jackson

The evil organization known as The Order is causing destruction across the planet (though so far Vegas is safe) and it is up to The Guardians of the Globe to stop them. You would think a clandestine group of super villains would be enough for the Guardians, but they have enough problems just working together.

This comic follows The Brit trying to hold his team together and watching his struggles dealing with his colorful allies is some times funny and sometimes a tad bit tragic. However it does feel a little like a set up issue. The real problem with this book is the art. The artists aren’t actually that bad, Ransom Getty’s art is clean and full of energy, and his fellow penciler, Russell Jackson has a more gritty style that would fit well in a crime comic.

But the two styles just don’t sink up. It felt really jarring turning the page and seeing a totally different style of art on the next page. Comics can pull off having two different artists, but usually it can only work if the artists share the same inkier to lent a sense of consistency. Both Getty and Jackson do their own inks making the comic feel stilted and broken.

War of The Green Lanterns: Aftermath

The name says it all here. This story picks up right where the War of The Green Lanterns crossover ended. They story is a seres of episodic interludes briefly showing what every major green lantern character does after the war.

This issue has a lot going up against it. It has the job of being a bookend for War of The Green Lanterns and a tease of Green Lantern stories to come. As such there isn’t much of a narrative. There are some interesting ideas here like how the Gardiens will deal with the newly re-recruited Green Lantern Sinestro, and the desition of some of the Green Lanterns to assassinate Sinestro.

One saving grace of this comic is that the section dealing with Ganthet did a good job of tugging on the reader’s heart strings. Ganthet, moping about the loss of his hand and his failure as a lantern, is met by the Blue Lantern Sodam Yat, who uses his ring to create a construct of his lost love Sayd who heals Ganthet’s hand. The

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Real Life

Last Friday, I was all set to go to Wondercon (the second largest comic book convention in California, and one of the largest in the country.) But then my friend Kalie posted this on Facebook:

“Hey guys…I was offered a quick PA [personal assistant] job over the weekend but I’m not able to take it. Pays $100 a day, and it’s tomorrow and Sunday. If you guys don’t have anything going on this weekend and need some extra $$ AND ARE RELIABLE, message me and I’ll give you the number of the guy you can call. This isn’t spam I swear!”

then she explains the job in the comments:

“Personal assistant. It’s for a potential reality tv show promo and they need people who can be there throughout the day to do little errands here and there. Really easy gig. And you get food too lol.”

I really needed money for my Wondercon trip, and  I only had enough for gas and a ticket. So my plans changed. I would do this PA job on Saturday and use the money go to Wondercon in style on Sunday.

For a few seconds, I thought I might violate my journalistic integrity, considering that reality TV is basically the bastard retarded rape child of documentary film making. But then I reasoned with myself that 1) I’m too poor to have integrity of any kind. and 2) working on a school newspaper doesn’t really qualify me as a journalist.

On Saturday morning, I showed up at a house in a suburb of Watsonville. That is a bit surreal in it’s self because Watsonville is a bit of a getto, but the people in that suburb are rich as all hell and are really paranoid about gangs. Right off the bat people were paranoid and freaked out, about my car, which has graffiti all over it. It’s not gang graffiti, just a bunch of tags from all sorts of taggers in Santa Cruz.

The show turned out to be called –I’m not joking– “Not So Desperate Housewives.” The idea is that most of the cast are not only housewives, but also fairly successful entrepreneurs. And they also like to do hot yoga. It is the kind of dribble that would air on Bravo for one season before getting canned in favor of a Project Runway spin-off.

I start working around 7:45. Right away, I’m given a job that fulfills a childhood dream of mine. I’ve always wanted to click the slide thing at the beginning of the scene. Turns out I’m bad at it because I have a hard time remembering the scene number, and it is tough getting the slide into the shot.

I had to stand around in what was called the “hot box,” the place where people get interviewed for the little talking head confessionals. The reason it was called the hot box became quickly apparent. Due to the lights, large number of people, the film equipment, and the massive amounts of hot air that is associated with reality TV, the hot box quickly heated up to about 110 degrees.

When I heard the interviews, I was kind of surprised to hear that the entire cast were composed of normal, successful people. None of them seemed to have the ego it would take to want to be on TV. That was kind of a problem: All these people were well adjusted and happy with their lives. Who the hell wanted to watch a TV show about that?

The film crew grew increasingly frustrated watching the cast basically having, drama free conversations about their normal, happy lives. Can you imagine anything worse for reality TV?

During lunch, I had a bit of drama of my own. A cop showed up at the set and was asking about the car. Apparently people in the neighborhood were complaining. They thought it might have gang ties. First off, actual gang members wouldn’t drive my car. My car is a bright green Honda Odyssey with “The Awesome Wagon” scrolled across the hood in bright red and yellow paint. No gang member in their right mind would drive that car. Can you imagine trying to commit a drive by shooting in that? You could see the car coming from a mile away, and then try hiding in what has to be the most recognizable car in the whole bloody county.

No, I drive that car for the same reason I have this blog: I’m an attention whore.

So the cop goes into the house and asks who owns the car. When the cop sees that it’s me an expression goes over her face says “Oh everything is ok. The owner of the car is white. There is no problem here.”

I found a sticker on the car left by the cops that said “This vehicle has been here for 72 hours please vacate it.”

I had been there for three, not 72 hours. Apparently, to cops, time works differently if you have a weird looking car in a rich neighborhood.

After several hours of shooting, the director had the cast gather for a talk. She told them they needed to be more like the people in reality TV. They needed to get in fights and be over dramatic. The cast got it. Within a few minuets after the talk, they were at each other’s necks, and confronting each other about every little annoyance. There was a long fight just about how much they fidget when they do yoga next to each other.

This is the dark side I was afraid of. In Journalism there is one rule, a prime directive: Don’t manipulate the story. In this show, there wouldn’t even be a story without manipulation.

I always knew that Reality TV was fake. I just didn’t know that it was so manufactured. I figured they found the craziest stars possible and the stars acted stupid on their own. But really they find normal people, and make them act crazy and stupid to generate drama.

There is the thing that gets me: How is anybody supposed to act “real” if there is a film crew living in your house with you, watching everything you do. Hell, a tactic used at over-eaters anonymous a way to get people to change their habits, is for the overeater to tell his sponsor exactly what he ate, and it works. Knowing that other people will see what you do changes what you do.

I mean if I knew the world was watching everything I did, I would change my habits myself. I would start swearing a whole lot less for a start. No network would let me on TV with my mouth.

Stay Up All Night and Watch Movies, The American Dream

Tomorrow I’m going to the Secret Film Festival (SFF) at the Del Mar Theater. The festival isn’t actually secret, but the movies they play there are.

I’ve been to similar all night festivals, the “All Freaking Night” fest in Olympia, Washington being a standout, but SFF is way more interesting. The big difference is that the movies at SFF are all new Indy movies that have yet to make their Santa Cruz premiere. As opposed to All Freaking Night, which just played forgotten horror movies appreciated more for irony then good taste.

A standout from the first time I went to SFF was the British comedy horror masterpiece Severance. Which can basically be summed up as The Office meets Deliverance. It had  a brutal sense of humor that I really enjoyed. There was one part involving a bear trap being repeatedly clamping down on someone’s leg that I laughed so hard at that my squeamish friend whispered to me “Arthur it isn’t funny anymore,” but I just kept right on laughing. I know that makes me sound like a crazy person but believe me all the amputation was in good fun.

Not that there isn’t just shalky horror stuff at SFF, there are movies from very possible genre you could think of. Films that have premeared at SFF include The Darjeeling Limited, Lars and The Real Girl & The Squid and The Whale to Oldboy, Chocolate and Let The Right One In. So really you could end up seeing anything.

On Sunday I will have a fresh blog about which movies at the festival were my favorites and which ones I thought were forgettable.

If you are in Santa Cruz, drop by the SFF and we can talk about which movies are our favorites.